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Old 04-14-2011, 10:36 AM   #1
Pedrojoca
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Lightbulb ENGL (Powerball) Tubing/Mods Thread



Intro: Hey people! After participating in a few posts wich relate to this, i decided to put as much info as i can, with your help.
The main topic is the Powerball and Powerball II, but the info can be useful for other amps as well.
The Powerball and Fireball (yeah, balls) are two amp series that really get bashed a lot around the internet, and yeah, I agree (wtf ). I'm not going t use the crappy videos around the internet.... (and yes, there are a couple that really make you want to hate that amp forever, and I just don't hate it because I already had it when I watched the vid ). It's a tricky amp.
I have got to admit that the decent tones I used to get out of the amp were still feeling too fizzy. Let's say, I was trying to play "single stringed" riffs, each note you played would strongly say "roar", but at the same time, "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ". You get the point.

Thread part that doesn't include me talking like a moaning bitch: After a lot of research, i discovered that people were noticing huge differences after retubing the amp, most of them, positively. I instantly started researching about tubes and their effect. Here's what's important so far.

Mods/Tube Combinations:

-EL34 Mod (by adadglgmut)
This mod makes the amp run with 4 EL34 power tubes. Description from the topic:
Quote:
IT SOUNDS SOOOOOOOOO MUCH BEEETTER!

Especially on the lo gain channel. Its kind of got a high gain crunchy sound that I can only describe as soldano-y. Steroid-pumped marshally. Really very different than the way it sounded before. Waaaay more organic.

Clean tone was nice too, definitely chimier than with the 6l6s, but cool nonetheless.

im an invader guy, and this is the first time that the powerball totally blew me away!
-12at7 Mod (guitarno and vanhendrix)
The objective here, is to reduce the gain (to be able to get it past 12 o' clock, at least), among with the fizz and compression using 12at7 preamp tubes, which have fewer gain that the 12ax7.

Guitarno put a JJ 12at7 in V6 and a TAD 12at7 premium balanced in V8. The other
Quote:
The tonal change is amazing!!
There is A LOT more clarity and vitality in sound! The strong compression is nearly complete gone with simultaneously the same amount of gain as before (you have to rise the preamp-gain a little higher).
In clean-mode of channel1 almost no change is hearable, crunch-mode now is a 'true' crunch, and not 'gentle heavy' as before. It sounds much more vintage than before.
The difference between the two gain-modes of channel2 (often described with channel 3 and 4) now is bigger: low-gain mode (ch3) is much more classic-rock style than before, with more mid-punch and clarity. High gain mode (ch4) is fat and modern like before, but also with more clarity and much more tonal definition! In both modes in high-gain settings the high-freqency 'hiss' isn't anymore existent. Very congenial!
The eq of ch2 now is working a little bit different: higher treble settings now are possible without becoming harsh an shrill and the mid-control now seems to boost slightly higher mids than before.
But what is necessary to mention: even though all the changes the basic sound-character of the powerball is fully retained! It is a powerball like before with more cultured behavior. Now he is nearer to classic rock without leaving his modern-heavy attitude.
I play different guitars with different pickup combinations, moderate paf's, vintage singelcoils, Duncan Jeff-Beck and distortion models and the active, highgain Blackouts. And they all fit even more to the powerball now. Actually I would say the powerball is more versatile now. And when I change guitar I can leave all settings the same and it sounds good everytime!
Vanhendrix got the best results with 12at7 in V5 and V6. The other tubes remain the same.
Quote:
More useable gain. Opens up the amp considerably from stock. The stock ch 4 is gone entirely, moving the original 3 into the 4th spot. The current ch 3 exists in that wonderful gain stage between lacklustre crunch and uber super brootz. This amp now goes from clean to brutal, and most importantly, does everything in between.


I'm so pleased with this mod that it almost warrants a NAD.
-5751 Mod (by LordOVchaoS)
This is also a preamp retubing mod, with a 5751 in V6, Tung Sol (12ax7) in V5 and a balanced 12ax7LPS in V8.
Quote:
My Powerball kicked ass! The 5751's added mids, depth, and just made the amp sound bigger. This setup killed all the "compressed" and "solid state sounding" stereotypes!!! Cut through like a chainsaw and was very responsive!
-Basic retubing
Even if you don't want to change the gain amount and all that, you can just buy yourself four 12ax7 (or ECC83S, as JJ call it) from one of the recommended brands by a lot of users (suggestions are welcome here): JJ, Tung Sol, 9th Gen Chinese, Sovtek, Groove Tubes...
Believe me, you'll like it, and it shouldn't be too expensive.

-Power Section Retubing
I don't have much info in this section but everyone seems to think that after you retube the power section you get a nicer tone, as ENGL default tubes kind of suck. Also, when biased (as it comes stone cold), you should notice a huge improvement.

---------------------------

Please try to keep this alive as a LOT of people might find the info here really useful. I strongly recommend these "mods", try them and give us your opinion, and i'm not talking only about powerball, if you give me useful info, i'll include it in the post.
enjoy
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:39 AM   #2
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Update: Just tried the following:

V5- TAD 12at7 V6, V7 and V8- JJ ECC83S

I noticed that a bit of the fizz is gone, the gain was reduced, i can now get it past 12 o' clock easily with clarity and the overall sound seems a bit more raw (good thing). So far, so good. I'm going to keep updating this as i'm testing some tubes today.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:25 AM   #3
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Another Update: Tried the following

V5- JJ 12at7 V6 and V7- JJ 12ax7 V8- TAD 12at7

I didn't notice a huge difference from the previous setup, I can't be sure without the clips but i think I didn't like it as much as the previous tube setup. I will confirm that later, maybe it's because the input tube is now a JJ instead of TAD.
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Old 04-16-2011, 03:59 AM   #4
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bump
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Old 04-16-2011, 04:04 AM   #5
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Cool idea man
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Old 04-16-2011, 03:06 PM   #6
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Final Update by me:

Got my best results with the following:
V5- Tad 12at7 V6 and V7- JJ ECC803S V8- JJ ECC83S Balanced

I'm surprised that the the 12at7 in V8 (PI) position didn't make any good for me.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:05 AM   #7
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So did you try the AT in just the V6 spot? I'd recommend the crap out of it before you seal up your amp for good. I didn't like how the V5 spot lowered the overall gain, as it weakened the first two channels

Also, kudos for keeping this info up. I was mainly posting in the other thread so that people googling powerball mods would come up with our results. Apparently there isn't a lot of info out there about modding this amp, so why not blaze a trail right?
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Old 04-17-2011, 02:22 PM   #8
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true man, seems like you share my interest

i'll try that, but i'm really confused as I already had 4 ECC81 Engl tubes that came with the amp. At least 1 of them was messed up but I always wonder about the "millions" of combinations i can do.

PS: I ordered 3x JJ ECC83S (1 balanced) tubes. I recieved 1 balanced ECC83S and 2 ECC803S. Is there any difference besides the long plate?
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Old 04-17-2011, 09:27 PM   #9
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i tried the 12AT7 mod, in V2 and the phase inverter. Totally transformed the amp, much much much better

NORTHLANE

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Old 04-17-2011, 11:01 PM   #10
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Also, in the original post, I didn't like the AT in the V5 spot, only the V6. So you're a little off there, if you could be so kind as to change that I'd be much obliged
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:25 PM   #11
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Very cool thread, dude.

I'll take this info into consideration if ever I decide to pick up a powerball.


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Old 04-18-2011, 01:33 AM   #12
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Don't fix it if it ain't broke.

Interesting mods though. I know some people that might find this useful.
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:52 AM   #13
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According to Lordovchaos, retubing the Powerballs power section with 5881's also helps in the mids department, brings some upper mids that make it cut thru better and also rounds off some of the fizzy highs
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:48 AM   #14
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i can't edit it, dunno why, let's just keep adding info.

so vanhendrix, you got your best results with: V5- 12ax7 V6- 12at7 V7- 12ax7 V8- 12ax7 ??

what about that same tube setup, but with a 12at7 in V8, better or worse?
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:50 AM   #15
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UPDATE: Got some more info, not sure about this, though.

nakedzen said:
Quote:
DONT TOUCH JJ TUBES FOR THE POWERBALL!!!! PLEASE trust me on that one. I ran all JJ on the recommendation from a few people (who didn't own the amp). I ran them for about 6 months. Lead tones were ...., the rhythm was buzzy (sounded like pissed off wasps in can ) and the clean tone was GONE. So I got pissed off one night at a gig and decided they were coming out.

I ordered up a new set of ENGL preamp tubes from Thomann. Nice and cheap - and I know someone's going to chime in saying they're rebranded tubes - but they work and work WELL! Seriously, the ENGL branded tubes are great little things!

As for poweramp tubes, I changed the stocks out for the Sovtek branded 6L6GC. TBH, I don't notice the difference between them and the stocks. The JJ 6L6s compressed the output too much and the EH was just way way too bright. The Sovteks really did the trick. If I had to be pushed, I would say the Sovteks had a slightly more dynamic overtone, in a good way.

So to sum up - ENGL stock preamp tubes and Sovtek Power amp tubes.

Hope this helps man. Sorry for the essay, but wanted to share all my experiences with it.
not quite sure about this
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Old 04-18-2011, 11:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedrojoca View Post
i can't edit it, dunno why, let's just keep adding info.

so vanhendrix, you got your best results with: V5- 12ax7 V6- 12at7 V7- 12ax7 V8- 12ax7 ??

what about that same tube setup, but with a 12at7 in V8, better or worse?
This is correct. I only bothered to get one AT7 because I knew exactly what changes I was looking to make. I only wanted to change the gain on those two channels, while having the rest of the amp function how it did before. I knew right away that I'd hit the money combination.

Edit:

Also, my settings are in the database for anyone who wants to try them after changing that tube. Sort of a jumping off point
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:54 PM   #17
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i used to have the preamp tubes totally f***** up, so i was only supposed to buy 4x12ax7. When I read your post i thought that apart from making it sound right, i could make it sound better. For a minimum sense of tightness, i had to get the gain at 3 o' clock, and that brings up some fizz.

vanhendrix, I tried your setup with:

V5- JJ ECC803S V6- JJ 12at7 V7- JJ ECC803S V8- JJ ECC83S

I can also switch the JJ 12at7 with a TAD 12at7, but as Tube Amp Doctor sent me 2xJJ ECC803S and 1xJJ ECC83S balanced (instead of the 3x JJ ECC83S [1 balanced] i asked for) i don't think i'm getting the same sound as you are.

So far, the best combination for me was:

V5- JJ ECC803S V6- JJ 12at7 V7- JJ ECC803S V8- JJ ECC83S
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Old 04-18-2011, 04:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedrojoca View Post
i used to have the preamp tubes totally f***** up, so i was only supposed to buy 4x12ax7. When I read your post i thought that apart from making it sound right, i could make it sound better. For a minimum sense of tightness, i had to get the gain at 3 o' clock, and that brings up some fizz.

vanhendrix, I tried your setup with:

V5- JJ ECC803S V6- JJ 12at7 V7- JJ ECC803S V8- JJ ECC83S

I can also switch the JJ 12at7 with a TAD 12at7, but as Tube Amp Doctor sent me 2xJJ ECC803S and 1xJJ ECC83S balanced (instead of the 3x JJ ECC83S [1 balanced] i asked for) i don't think i'm getting the same sound as you are.

So far, the best combination for me was:

V5- JJ ECC803S V6- JJ 12at7 V7- JJ ECC803S V8- JJ ECC83S
Yeah i'm not sure we are talking about the same thing. I have the Engl branded AXs (ECC 83) in the other slots, and a Mesa branded AT (ECC 81) in the V6 spot. I really have no idea what other tubes you're talking about.

Also, I had a bad preamp tube in the V5 spot about a year after buying my powerball. It was replaced with one of the extra AXs that came with it. Should be identical... but now that I look at the other extra tube that I still have, the box says it is "FQ", which only means that it was selected for quality....I don't however have the box of the AX that is currently in there. Does anyone know if the powerball comes with two FQ tubes?

This .... is nonsense. Whatever mystery tubes are in there work right now, I hope nothing ever goes wrong.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:11 PM   #19
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van hendrix, i just discovered that each ECC803S, as opposed to regular ECC83S, remove 10% of gain, that's why i was trying your technique and getting lack of gain, after a few tube mixes, i found a really nice combination, the amp sounds a lot more raw now, the high end seems more round but still agressive as hell. After all this, i went from, 'i wanna sell this' -.- to 'i love this amp'. Yeah, you can flame as much as you want people ( lulz), but this f****** rocks. Like someone said before, after the EL34 mod, it's absolutely a NAD.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:56 PM   #20
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Yeah I just talked to my guitar guy. I have a regular non-FQ AX7 in the V5 spot, instead of what is "supposed to be in there". Who cares, it works
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:59 PM   #21
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Bump for a quick anecdote:

My band is currently in hiatus while our singer tours with another band (jerk...), so I have my powerball at home for the first time in a while. First thing I noticed about it being here is that the treble is absolutely GRATING. It was scratching and just horrible. I turned the treble and the presence all the way off, and began switching tubes around again - no change.

I was fiddling around with my friend's Eq pedal just to see if I could get rid of that horrible sound, meanwhile searching the web for something to replace my no-longer-beloved powerball. And then I accidentally left my amp on while i went and had dinner.

Folks, this is not new to me and it's something I SHOULD have remembered. My amp (maybe this is normal for them, maybe not) takes at LEAST an hour to warm up and start really cookin'. I had been getting fed up with it too fast and turning it off before it ever reached its full potential ever since I'd brought it home. Hell, I even used to phone ahead to get someone to turn on my amp before my band would jam just so that it would be ready when I got there. So when I got back from dinner I noticed the red LEDs blazing and decided to pick up the guitar I'd left beside it. Problem solved. Treble controls are back to where they were before and everything sounds perfect.
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:11 PM   #22
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weird, mine doesn't need to warm up that much to get rid of the harsh high end (yes, it does exist in my amp, but just at low volumes or in the first 5 minutes). Maybe it has something to do with Powerball I and II (mine is II).

The thing is, with the new tubes, when the amp gets past the fizz point (the fizz point are the first 5 minutes of playing with 10/15 minutes of warming up in standby) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE SOUND! The compression is so much f*cking lower with the new tubes, and so is the fizz!

I am GAAAAASSSING like crazy for the EL34 mod, i'll even call it a NAD when i get it

EDIT: I'd love to try the 5881 mod, but i'm not sure if you just bias it or you need to replace a resistor...
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedrojoca View Post
weird, mine doesn't need to warm up that much to get rid of the harsh high end (yes, it does exist in my amp, but just at low volumes or in the first 5 minutes). Maybe it has something to do with Powerball I and II (mine is II).

The thing is, with the new tubes, when the amp gets past the fizz point (the fizz point are the first 5 minutes of playing with 10/15 minutes of warming up in standby) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE SOUND! The compression is so much f*cking lower with the new tubes, and so is the fizz!

I am GAAAAASSSING like crazy for the EL34 mod, i'll even call it a NAD when i get it

EDIT: I'd love to try the 5881 mod, but i'm not sure if you just bias it or you need to replace a resistor...
So you ended up with just a mishmash of preamp tubes then? While switching mine back to stock I remembered how much I loved channel 3's sound and HATED channel 4's. If they come out with the powerball III that just has two channel 3s with separate gain knobs, they'd have a much better product IMO.

I'm really digging the variety I get out of the amp now though. I have 4 great channels now, although I find that I need to use specific guitars for specific sounds. My metal guitars never sounded good clean, but now they actually have a purpose outside of them being pointy: I actually need the high-output pickups to tighten up channel 4. It used to be that the guitars that sounded best clean ended up sounding best on all 3 of my usable channels.

Edit: and don't you need to replace stuff with the EL34 mod? I'd try routing your preamp through something with EL34s before you try something crazy like that. We tried mine through my friend's Roadster (which he put 34s in) and it sounded badass in a Nickelback kinda way (say what you will, they have great tone). But it would have been too loose for what I want. I'd be pretty upset if I had just paid X amount of dollars and it sounded like that, because it'd be annoying to get it back to normal
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:28 PM   #24
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i didn't really get the part about a mishmash of preamp tubes

could you explain that?
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:44 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedrojoca View Post
i didn't really get the part about a mishmash of preamp tubes

could you explain that?

I was just wondering what your magic combination of preamp tubes ended up being. I just ended up changing the V6 to get what I was looking for
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